The Big Picture

There is no more diverse city in the world than Los Angeles and the potential for economic and cultural success at our current time is more promising than ever. With the rise of the Expo Line, public transit has finally bridged the Eastern and Western corners of the city for an affordable cost for the public. Certain elected officials including Councilmember Mike Bonin are working to reduce our carbon footprint and encourage a healthy lifestyle at the same time by creating protected bike lanes on major streets. The cultural renaissance is bringing new waves of fresh Art and Music across all parts of the city in a way that is revitalizing once forgotten neighborhoods and transforming dreams into reality.

At a time in which Los Angeles is undergoing such a massive transformation, industries including tech are seizing the opportunity to consider Los Angeles their home instead of opting for a pathway within more traditional geographical centers of innovation. Companies like Snap are choosing the beach as their HQ over places like Mountain View, San Francisco, and Manhattan because of numerous factors, including but not limited to the lower cost of living and slightly warmer weather. With the influx of a booming new industry, Los Angeles finds itself at a crossroads that it truly has not dealt with since the foundation of Hollywood in terms of the direction of how an industry can leave a lasting impact.

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Tech offices are popping up all over the city, from Marina Del Rey to the Arts District, equipped with standing desks, state of the art conference rooms, and even the occasional ping pong table. Companies are clamoring for spots in new facilities including the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) which aims to bring in organizations that care about building an even better future for the city. However, a major issue that is looming over the city as a whole is the fact that no one seems to know just what that future will look like and how it will change the course of growth and progress built over decades.

Nearly two years ago, Taylor McPartland and I sat down at the C&M Café in Palms in order to craft a vision for how we can create a network of leaders, organizations, and foundations that will all work together in order to create the necessary space and understanding for the future of the tech industry in the Greater Los Angeles area. Through over 20 months of research, meetings, symposiums, events, and even one name change, we have created an engine of progress in the form of ScaleLA where we bring together important leaders in the spaces of tech, government and advocacy, and local pillars from communities across all neighborhoods of the region in order to pave the way for progress.

Over the course of the last year, we have worked to bring the best thought leaders and action makers together in order to address the most important issues we must address in our local communities. Our efforts to make the local foster care system through Hack Foster Care LA are already creating technology that will ease the scheduling process of visitation windows thanks to the hard work by local agencies including Sidebench. Our healthcare townhall with leaders from Cedars-Sinai, elected officials, veterans of the Department of Health and Human Services, and local healthcare apps proved to create a conversation centered around the promise of delivering technological innovations that will help address the shortcomings of localized healthcare concerns. As we mentioned last month, India Williams is creating a mentorship program that will bring traditionally overlooked youth into the halls of prominent local universities and rising tech companies in order to shatter the glass ceiling for the next generation. Over the course of 2018, we are looking to coalesce around not only the Healthcare space, but also address some of the major new trends in the FinTech space that will surely impact thousands of local residents. In order to create a successful future, we must make sure every single community is represented at the table.

A few years back, a viral video from San Francisco found its way onto my Facebook newsfeed. It featured a set of local kids from the Mission District of San Francisco being forced off of their local soccer field by a set of employees from a certain prominent data storage tech company who threatened the kids if they didn’t get off the field. The tension arose due to a new policy that changed the process involving reserving a field from a free service to a paid permit service. There were no community meetings to address this new policy change and as a result, local kids who just wanted to play a quick pick-up game felt blindsided. This could have been easily avoided if all parties involved had been in communication with each other in order to figure out how to best implement new local policy while balancing the needs of the communities that rely on these facilities as an everyday part of life.

We are working with a talented network comprised of leaders from all backgrounds in order to break down all of the institutional barriers within the region. We are providing a direct line between the leaders from both the present as well as rising influencers so we can avoid a future through which communities and innovative companies view each other as adversaries and roadblocks to progress. At the same time, we want to amplify the concerns from local voices that so often are drowned out in a city that can often be deafening from the sheer amount of competing voices.

The world around us is constantly changing, so we must ensure that the steps we take now are beneficial for providing a future city where we can all rely on each other to progress as a society. Let’s all be accountable and make sure each other’s voices are heard and acted upon in order for our city to truly achieve greatness.

David Turkell